BE SMART, GET RINEHARDT Rinehardt Law | RinehardtLawFirm.com | 419-LAW-2020
What Happens When Anxiety Interferes? When we represent clients who have been in car crashes, the obvious focus is on the bodily injuries the person suffered. But something else we hear time and time again is something not as obvious — many of our clients tell us about anxiety and fear when driving that they never experienced before. They describe symptoms like a panic attack: a pounding or racing heart, sweating, chills, weakness, and dizziness. Many say the enjoyment they previously took in driving is now gone. The scenery was unspectacular, and we got bored after about an hour. We got as far as Erie, Pennsylvania, where we stopped at the tiny airport and got a bite to eat. She determined road trips in Ohio were not nearly as fun as California, so we drove back home. It has been quite some time since I took a long road trip.
Recently, our son Aaron moved back to Ohio from Florida. I volunteered to drive with him and his dog Quinn. With the car packed to the gills and a bunch of snacks, we took off. I tried to be positive, but I was secretly (or not so secretly) dreading the drive. Maybe it was because my expectations were so low, but the drive was not nearly as bad as I feared. We listened to music and a book on tape, and we talked.
The ability to get in the car and drive is something many of us take for granted. While I have never been a person who loves a road trip, I appreciate being able to get where I want to go. As a kid, every spring when the snow finally melted, my family took a six-hour drive to upstate New York to visit my grandma in Utica. We would pack up the trunk with our luggage, and my brother, sister, and I would pile into the back seat of our sedan. We didn’t wear seat belts back then, and I often slept on the back window ledge above the back seat. (I shudder to think of it now). My parents packed only healthy snacks, and my mom would read aloud from a novel to my dad. A short way in, I would begin to ask, “Are we almost there?” It was such a relief to get to my grandma’s house, where there were always chocolate chip cookies and homemade chicken soup. The way home seemed twice as long, except at least we had sweets my grandma packed for us. For two weeks after the trip, the car smelled faintly of rotten banana peels. I first heard the expression “road trip” when I was in high school. I had befriended a girl who came from Los Angeles to live with her dad for a year. She was a “cool girl” who wore vintage dresses she bought at thrift shops. She told me about the road trips she and her friends took in California to the desert, the beach, or the mountains, music blaring in someone’s convertible. It all sounded very glamorous. We hung out every day after school at her dad’s house. One afternoon, she said, “Let’s take a road trip.” We got in the car and started driving north on 271.
Aaron, Quinn, and Hillary on the road trip from Florida to Ohio
Most of our clients who experience intense anxiety after being in a crash find that the apprehension dissipates with time and travel. If you are having that kind of anxiety when driving, know you are not alone and that it will get better. If you are lucky enough to take a road trip with loved ones this spring, may it be safe with plenty of good conversation, laughter, and connection.
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